THE GREATEST DAY OF ALL

alternate textLast week we looked into the theme of death and the two questions: What happens when we die and what is the proper way to prepare ourselves for death as men and women who believe the Scriptural claim that Y’shua was resurrected and that his second coming will trigger the event of the resurrection of those who believed in Him as the Messiah, the Anointed One of Yahweh. There is no doubt whatsoever, that the expectation of the resurrection of believers at that point when their Master will return to this world, is the single most important message of the Messianic Scriptures, or the New Testament. We referred to one of the most significant passages in the New Testament, 1 Thes 4:16-17: “The Master Himself shall come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of a chief messenger, and with the trumpet of Elohim, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. Then those believers who are still alive shall be caught away together with them in the clouds to meet the Master – and so we shall always be with the Master.” This truth is re-iterated again and again throughout Scriptures. In Matthew 24 Y’shua told his followers that there would be a time when the Son of Man would come again from heaven with great power and esteem and that He would send his messengers to collect his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth. Matthew 19 calls this moment in history the event of rebirth or regeneration and declares that all believers would then join the Messiah and would start their “new” ministry as kings and priests together with Him. In 2 Thessalonians 1:10 the believers in Messiah are called the ones “who believe in that Day” – a Day in which Y’shua will be esteemed and admired by his set-apart ones. In John 5:28-29 Y’shua says that on the Day of his second coming it would be as though the ones who believed in Him, would “hear” his voice from their tombs and would be resurrected.

This is not a “New Testament idea” – an idea that was only manufactured during and after the lifetime of Y’shua the Messiah. It was the conviction of the early Jewish believers that Yahweh was the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. They would express this conviction without any hesitation, whatsoever, and would add immediately that Yahweh was the Elohim of the living and not of the dead. So, was it their understanding that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov was already among the living? No, it was their conviction that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov would also be among those who would be resurrected on the great Day of resurrection. This is how Y’shua proved that the Sadducees were wrong – the Jewish group who was adamant that there was no Day of resurrection to look forward to. This is a Day that the ancient prophets referred to frequently, not only to warn those who turned their backs upon Yahweh, but to comfort those who put their trust in Him and remained faithful to his words. Isaiah wrote that on that Day those whose names “were written among the living” would be excellent and comely and part of “the fruit of the earth” (Isa 4:2-3).

This particular prophet comes back to the theme of “that Day” time and again. He says in that Day a certain group of people that is called “a remnant” will “lean upon Yahweh, the Set-apart One of Israel, in truth” and “the burden will be removed from their shoulders” (Isa 10:20-27). He also declares that in that Day there shall be a Root of Yishai, standing as a banner to the people and unto Him the nations shall seek, and His rest shall be their esteem (Isa 11:10). Later on he says that in that Day man shall look to his Maker, and his eyes shall turn to the Set-apart One of Israel (Isa 17:7). So also Isa 25:9 “And it shall be said in that Day, “See, this is our Elohim. We have waited for Him, and He saves us. This is Yahweh, we have waited for Him, let us be glad and rejoice in His deliverance”; Isa 27:13 “And in that Day it shall be that a great shophar is blown, and those who were perishing … shall come, and shall worship Yahweh on the set-apart mountain, in Yerushalayim”; Isa 29:18 “And in that Day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of darkness” and Isa 52:6 “My people shall know My Name, in that Day, for I am the One who is speaking.”

Some of the other prophets echoed the very same message when they spoke about “that Day”:
• Hos 2:16 “And it shall be, in that Day,” declares Yahweh, “that you call Me My Husband, and no longer call Me My Ba‛al” (This reality is echoed in Revelation 19, where some future Day is pictured as the Day of the marriage of the Lamb).
• Hos 2:21 “And it shall be in that Day that I answer,” declares Yahweh, “that I answer the heavens, and they answer the earth” (A picture portraying the truth that those “in the earth” will be elevated to the heavens and from the heavens to the very throne of Yahweh).
• Joe 3:18-21 “And it shall be in that Day that the mountains drip with new wine, and the hills flow with milk … Yehudah – whose innocent blood was shed by her enemies – shall dwell forever, and Yerushalayim to all generations … and Yahweh shall be dwelling in Zion!” (the term “Yehudah” is here used in the broadest possible sense, with Yehudah being joined by “her dispersed sisters” from among the nations, as per the prophesy of Isaiah 11:12 – also notice the reference that those whose blood were shed – that is: those who died – will dwell in Zion forever).
• Amo 9:11 “In that Day I shall raise up the tent of David which has fallen down. And I shall repair its breaches and raise up its ruins. And I shall build it as in the days of old” (The aspects of restoration and resurrection in that Day may clearly be seen in phrases like “raise up that which has fallen down”, “repair the breaches”, “raise the ruins” and “rebuilding as in the old days”).
• Oba 1:17 “In that Day there shall be an escape on Mount Tsiyon and (the ones who escaped) shall be set-apart. And the house of Yaakov shall possess their possessions” (The word “escape” has various meanings throughout the Scriptures, but it is not impossible that the prophet wanted to include here the meaning of “escaping death” in order to take into possession that which Yahweh had previously prepared).
• Mic 4:6 “In that Day, declares Yahweh, I gather the lame, and I bring together the outcast and those whom I have afflicted” (The reference to the “lame and the outcast” is also used in the well known chapter on the new covenant, Jeremiah 31, and is a picture of the regeneration in the last days when Yahweh will make everything new by restoring and reviving that which had previously been “thrown down, destroyed and afflicted”).
• Zep 3:15-17 “Yahweh has turned aside your judgments. He has faced your enemy. He is in your midst. There is no more need to fear evil. In that Day it shall be said to Yerushalayim, “Do not fear, Tsiyon, do not let your hands be weak. Yahweh your Elohim in your midst, He is mighty to save. He rejoices over you with joy, He is silent in His love, He rejoices over you with singing” (It is quite clear that this future Day is a day to look forward to, for more reasons than one, but especially so because Yahweh Himself will come face to face with the most important enemy of all, the enemy of Death).
• Zec 2:11-12 “Many nations shall be joined to Yahweh in that Day, they shall become My people. And I shall dwell in your midst … Yahweh shall inherit his portion in the Set-apart Land. And He shall again choose Yerushalayim” (Another proof that this Day will not only be a day of importance for the ethnical people of Israel, but indeed for people out of “many nations, who have decided to join Yahweh” but who have, up till that that day, not yet claimed their promised inheritance).
• Mal 3:17 “And they shall be Mine, said Yahweh of hosts, on that Day that I prepare (as a day of) special treasure. And I shall spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him” (It seems that this verse is implying that even though the believers belong to Yahweh from before the day of their death, there is a sense in which they will only truly be “His” on “that Day” that He had prepared since the very beginning – the Day upon which He will “spare” the believers as a man spares his own son”).

The New Testament is echoing this same picture of the Last Day very clearly. It is the day upon which all those who are cherishing and expecting the coming of the Messiah, will receive the crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8) or the crown of life (James 1:12). How do we know that we shall be among those who will be resurrected on that day? How do we know that Yahweh will not forget about us? The picture that we get from Scriptures is that when we decide to follow Yahweh by believing in his Son, Y’shua, we give “something” of ourselves to Him. Different words may be used to describe this “something”. It may be called loyalty or trust or dedication or allegiance or commitment or desire or love. The Orthodox Jewish Bible translation of 2 Tim 1:12 calls it a “pikkadon” or a deposit – something precious of ourselves that we have entrusted to Him. Some of the Afrikaans translations call it a “pand”. Will this pikkadon mean anything, after we have died, and with so many other people around us – believers and unbelievers – who are dying every single day, each one having a different view of life and a different expectation with regards to life after death. Our ancient fathers – not the ones who followed their own designs and plans, but the ones who followed Yahweh – had no doubt in their minds about the exalted value of this pikkadon. What they did, was this, quite simply: They asked themselves two questions. The first: Is Yahweh almighty? They had no hesitation in answering: Yes, no doubt, He is almighty. And then the second question: Being the One that is almighty, is Yahweh able to guard what I have entrusted to Him, even after my death? And once again, they had no hesitation in answering: YES, HE IS ABLE! And hence the declaration of 2 Tim 1:12 which we all may adopt as our own, all important, declaration of belief: “I am not ashamed for the sufferings that I have to endure now, for I know whom I have believed and I am absolutely convinced that He is able to guard until that Day, the pikkadon entrusted to Him by me.”

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